Naina Jha conducted an awareness workshop on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act (POSH) at Arvind Mahila College on 19th September 2018 for 150 girls and 10 teachers.
She began the workshop by talking about the concepts of gender and sex and the differences between the two with the help of examples. She also asked the students to share their own understanding of the concepts with the help of examples from their daily lives. This helped make it more relevant to them.
Next, on the agenda, was the issue of sexual harassment and the objectification of women in the world of media and advertising. With a presentation of various advertisements in the past that have been banned she explained how we are still progressing and moving away from comparing to women as sexual objects.
Naina then spoke to the students about sexual harassment, its types and the laws that protect one against sexual harassment. When asked in the beginning all the students denied ever facing harassment. Toward the end of the workshop, they realised that things like ogling, whistling, stalking were also forms of sexual harassment. Post the workshop all of them raised their hands when she asked them whether they had faced harassment. She reiterated the importance of being aware, speaking up and reporting harassment by teaching them about FIRs and significance of consent.
A few of the girls found the courage to share their personal experiences. One of them has been abused as a child but she hadn’t been able to understand what had happened to her then. Another students shared about an experience in the market when boys on a motorcycle pulled at her scarf. Terrified, she didn’t venture out of the house alone for days.
Sexual harassment affects everyone, everywhere. We need to do so much more to make our girls safer, to make sure they receive an education, to make sure they have a chance to grow.